Libya's rebels handed donor funds for salaries

By the Associated Press | June 29, 2011 | 8:14 AM EDT

Libyan protesters chant against Moammar Gadhafi in the rebel-held capital Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday June 28, 2011. Hundreds of Libyan demonstrators took to the streets demanding the transfer of the frozen assets of Moammar Gadhafi by the United Nations. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

LONDON (AP) — Libya's cash-strapped opposition has received donor funds to pay salaries to public-sector workers in rebel-held areas, Britain confirmed on Wednesday.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told lawmakers that a first payment of $100 million in international aid money had been made to Libya's main opposition group.

At a meeting in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, the international contact group on Libya pledged more than $1.3 billion to help support the opposition.

"In the last week they received the first international funding ... through the temporary financing mechanism set up by the contact group for vital fuel and salaries," Hague told lawmakers.

He said a meeting of the contact group in Istanbul next month would seek to ensure "the international community is ready to support the Libyan people in building a stable future."

Libya's Transitional National Council said that funds would be used to pay teachers, street cleaners and other workers providing essential services.

Opposition Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni has made repeated pleas for urgent funds, and warned on Tuesday that hospitals in the eastern city of Benghazi were running low on medical supplies.